Iimmigration Essay Research Paper Nikki BumbaccoMs HarrisonENG

Iimmigration Essay, Research Paper Nikki Bumbacco Ms Harrison ENG OAC July 21, 2000 It is a fact that almost all of the people in Canada are immigrants, or come from

Iimmigration Essay, Research Paper

Nikki Bumbacco

Ms Harrison


July 21, 2000

It is a fact that almost all of the people in Canada are immigrants, or come from

immigrant descent. If it were not for the millions of people who have fled to Canada in

hope of a better life, Canada would never have prospered into what it is today. As a result

of this fact, it is hard to believe that immigrants are still faced with many hardships when

they enter Canada. Most immigrants have good intentions in mind when coming to a new

country. Immigrants coming to Canada believe that they will be able to keep their culture,

become successful and prosper. These misleading hopes set the immigrant up for a life of

continuous disappointment. Canadian Literature portrays the immigrant experience in a

negative light. The Canadian experience for immigrants appears to be programmed for

failure. Immigrants try to adopt a new identity in hope that this will enable them to

succeed in the future. Venturing to new lands often compels immigrants to isolate

themselves from society, by holding onto their own traditions and disregarding the new

culture. Immigrants who seek to become successful in Canada are often let down by

what they have found, and are left feeling fearful, desolate and helpless.

Immigrant characters in Canadian literature often express a fear of losing their

identity and culture. For most immigrants, culture is the only thing that truly belongs to

them when they come to a new country. In the novel The Black Madonna by Frank Paci,

Assunta Barrone is one of the main characters who has immigrated from Italy to a small

town in Northern Ontario. Her refusal to adapt or change herself in any way to become

more ?Canadian? exemplifies her desire to keep her Italian heritage.

?It had been a long time since she had stepped off that train with her

dowry trunk. And in all that time she had never ceased to puzzle him. He

didn?t know whether she had purposely refused to adapt to the new ways

or if she was incapable of doing so. She was certainly stubborn. She had

strange old-country customs that she insisted on maintaining even though

they were primitive and embarrassing? (Paci 11).

Assunta?s desire to keep her customs was what helped to preserve her Italian identity. By

keeping her identity Assunta felt like her homeland was somehow constantly with her.

The poem ?Alien? by Mary Elizabeth Colman also exemplifies the immigrants fear of

losing their identity. ?Dear hills of home, why did I leave your arms?/ How can I love this

vast, clamorous land?/ Whose noisy people hold me in contempt?? (Colman 9-11). This

immigrant is in fear of the new land which they have come to, and is afraid of the people

around them. Because immigrants hold their culture so close to them when they travel to

new lands, they defend it with every ounce of their being. Without culture or identity

immigrants are defenceless in a new country.

The immigrant in Canadian literature is often regretful of leaving their homeland

because of the disappointments they discover about Canada. Most immigrants believe

that getting a Canadian passport and citizenship is their key to unlocking ?the good life?

In Canadian literature the opposite of this occurs because the ideal of what Canada is

does not meet it?s reality. This is best exemplified through the short story ?Hunky? by

Hugh Garner and the poems ?Land of Opportunity? by F.R. Scott and ?I Fight Back? by

Lillian Allen. In the story ?Hunky? the main character Hunky is a German immigrant

working in the tobacco fields for a very arrogant employer. Hunky wants nothing more

than to become a Canadian citizen because he feels that having his citizenship is the key

to obtaining ?the good life?.

?He placed great stress on the fact that he hoped to become a Canadian

citizen in the fall. His longing for citizenship was not only gratitude and

patriotism towards the country that had given him asylum, but a craving

for status as a recognized human being? (Garner 135).

The poem ?Land of Opportunity? by F.R. Scott exemplifies the disappointment of the

Canadian status. ?Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce/These are privileged names in

my country/But I AM ILLEGAL HERE.? (Scott, 2-4). The poem goes on to say ?I come

to Canada/And found the Doors/ of Opportunities Well Guarded ? (7-9). This poem

expresses the immigrant woman?s disappointments found when she came to Canada. In

the poem ?I Fight Back? by Lillian Allen, the main character expresses the deep anger

immigrants have instilled against Canada. ?Got involved in a Communist

demonstration,/And is now being deported by the Canadian Government./This will teach

these foreign reds/ The sort of country they?ve come to.? (Allen, l9-12). Immigrants are

often left disappointed because their images of Canada do not meet with the ideal and

truth of what the country is like.

Immigrants in Canadian literature are constantly struggling with denying their

past in order to succeed in the future. In Joy Kowaga?s ?Obason? Naomi?s uncle

struggles with his identity. A families silence about the force of the interment of the

Japanese in Vancouver, compels Naomi to gather information on her dead uncle?s that

has been responsible for changing her life. Naomi? s uncle was of Japanese sailor whose

ships had been taken over by the R.C.M.P. While Naomi searched through her

grandfather?s belongings she found a box box filled with her grandfathers old boat

building tools and a shoe box containing a document from the R.C.M.P. The document

stated that Naomi?s uncle must leave his area and report to the local Registrar of Enemy

Aliens where he will later be placed in an interment camp. Even though, Naomi?s uncle

was a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government took over his ships because of his

Japanese origin. Naomi?s uncle was robbed not only of his ships, but so of his morals

and ethics. By hiding his past in shoe boxes he wanted nothing to with his Japanese

origin. A letter was also found from the Office of the Custodian from the Japanese

Evacuation Section, stating that it was not his fault nor the police, nor the men who

rioted against him that his ships had been taken over and he was placed in an interment

camp. The Canadian government was just doing their job (67). During World War II

injustice was the only thing that was constant in a world full of chaos. Naomi?s uncle

developed an inner conflict in coping with his identity. Hiding all of possessions that

resembled his past, Naomi?s uncle adopted a false identity, which he thought was the only

key to sucess in the future. Immigrants try to adopt a new identity because they feel this is

the only way they can succeed in the unaccustomed lands.

Although immigrants struggle with maintaining their identity, they are often

robbed of their heritage by unbeatable forces. War and prejudice force immigrants to

adhere to the ways of their new surroundings and loose their old traditions. Joy Kowaga

depicts this immigrant experience through Naomi?s uncle?s life experiences. Being robed

of his ships and placed in an interment camp because of his heritage, forced Naomi?s

uncle to pull away from his past. Naomi follows in the footsteps of her uncle, and tries to

pull away from her heritage also. Naomi?s denial of her past is exemplified in the quote,

? Our past is a s clotted as old webs hung in dark attics , still sticky and hovering waiting

for us to adhere and submit or depart? ( 54). Naomi?s past wants to cling to her however

she detaches from herself from her culture by refusing to carry on the traditions of her

Japanese heritage. Naomi?s opposing views against her Japanese origin were moulded

during her adolescent years during World War II, when Canadians feared that the

Japanese would attack Canada just as they had bomed the United States at Pearl Harbour.

Leaving their past behind, immigrants struggle to survive by any means possible.

Naturally human?s are constant striving to survive. This constant struggle compels

human?s to change their culture, in order to contiue and flourish.

Immigrants in Canadian Literature are also faced with feelings of isolation from

society and the land. The isolation that immigrants experience is usually isolation from

society . Assunta Barrone?s character in The Black Madonna is an example of how

immigrants are socially isolated from society. In the case of Assunta, however, this

isolation is self-inflicted. The fact that Assunta never really left her small Italian

neighbourhood in the west end of Sault Ste. Marie was the reason why she was socially

isolated. Assunta does not interact with anyone other than the Italian women in her

neighbourhood. ?Assunta had never gone beyond short Sunday car rides to the outskirts

of the Sault.? (Paci 7). Even though Assunta was an ocean and a half away from her

homeland of Italy, she was still isolated from society. ?It seemed she had gone from one

Italian village in Marche to another one in Northern Ontario-the west end.? (11).

Assunta?s refusal to learn the English language, also contributed to her isolation from

society. In the poem ?Alien? by Mary Elizabeth Colman, the main character also feels

isolated by Canada?s land. ?I AM afraid. This land is strange to me,/So new, so fierce, so

large, with noisy folk.? (Colman lines1-2). The immigrant is isolated by the land because

it is so new for them. The poem goes on to say ?How can I love this vast clamorous

land?(line 10). The main character portryed in the poem ?Alien? feels isolted in the

unfamiliar land. Being in forgein surroundings, leaves the immigrant feeling helpless and

isolated. Throughout Canadian Literature isolation has an extreme effect upon the

developement of an individual?s character. Immigrants in Canadian literature will at one

point be faced with isolation, but must think positively to overcome these feelings.

Canadian literature shows immigrant children to be embarrassed and shameful of

their heritage. It seems as though all children of immigrants try their hardest to rise above

and create a better life for themselves than what their parents before them had. This is

evident through the character of Marie in the novel The Black Madonna. Marie works

diligently at her school work because she feels that her school smarts will help her rise

above her past, and they do when she gets accepted to university.

?She would show her soon enough that she could do things alone. Go to

Toronto. Become a doctor even. There were even endless possibilities

once she got away. She would be so glad to be rid of them all. She?d show

them that she didn?t need them? (Paci 79).

This quote shows the hostility that Marie holds towards her heritage. Most Canadian

works on the immigrant portray immigrant children as being shameful of their past and

longing to escape the reality of who they really are.

Feelings of emptiness and helplessness seem to be inevitable for the immigrant in

Canadian literature. For the immigrant Canada is a land of reoccuring disappointments.

Canadian Literature is filled with failure because of immigrants origin. The novel The

Black Madonna is a good example in showing the many negative aspects of an

immigrants life. The main character Assunta portrays the many disappointments

immigrants are faced with when travelling to new lands. The short story ?Hunky? and

poems ?I Fight Back?, ?Alien?, and ?Land of Opportunity? are works which portray the

immigrant as a victim. ?Hunky?, ?The Land of Opportunity? and ?I Fight Back ?portray

characters who are disappointed with the immigrant experience. The immigrant struggle

with identity is exemplified in the short story ?Obason? by Joy Kowaga. Denying his

Japanese origin Naomi?s uncle hoped to become successful in Canada. Canadian works

depict immigrant children as being embarrassed or shameful of their past. Marie?s

character in The Black Madonna and Naomi?s character in ?Obason? exemplify the

immigrant children?s dishonourable attitude towards their culture. It is unfortunate that

immigrants must experience hardships during their time in new lands. Immigrating to a

new country should be an exceptional opportunity enabling foreigners to become

auspicious. Unfortunately, the only lesson that immigrants embark upon when inhabiting

among Canada?s vast land is: Endurance, Survival, No Victory. In the past other

Canadians made great sacrifices so that we today can enjoy the freedom , the quality of

life, and the ezdard of living that we have. Hopefully, in time, immigrants will feel

more comfortable with life in new lands and adapt to the constant culture changes in the


Allen, Lillian. ? I fight Back.? Canadian Poets. Canada: Little Brown and Co., 1970.

Colman, Mary Elizabeth. ?Alien?. An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English .Canada:

Oxford University Press, 1990.

Garner, Hugh. ? Hunky.? Canadian Poets. Canada: Little, Brown and Co., 1970.

Kowaga, Joy. ?Obason.? An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English. Canada: Oxford

University Press, 1990.

Paci, Frank. The Black Madonna. Canada: Oberon Press, 1982.

Scott, F.R. ? The Land of Opportunity.? Canadian Content. Canada: Harcourt Brace &

Company, 1992.